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Why are there no Indian gymnasts at the Paris Olympics?

After a reasonably good showing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics, no Indian gymnast has managed to qualify for Paris.

Why are there no Indian gymnasts at the Paris Olympics?
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Gymnast Dipa Karmakar performing at an event. (File Photo)

By

Arjun Mylvahanan

Updated: 11 July 2024 3:42 PM GMT

With just over two weeks to go before the Olympics, one question pops up about the absence of the Gymnastics squad from the list of Indian contingent going to the Paris Olympics.

Why are there no Indian gymnasts in Paris?

For the first time in 12 years, there will not be an Indian representative in gymnastics, with both the Tokyo and Rio Olympics seeing an Indian participating in the event.

Into the history books

Dipa Karmakar scripted history back in 2016 when the then 24-year-old became the first ever Indian female gymnast to compete at the Olympics and the first Indi to qualify for the final vault event.

Unfortunately for her, she finished just outside the podium in fourth, but it was a campaign to remember from Dipa.

Similarly, Pranati Nayak, only the third Indian to win an international medal on the vault, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as the sole Indian representative.

There are a few telling factors that have led to India's lack of representation in Paris 2024.

Lackluster showing in key events

A major factor was the below-par showing of Indian gymnasts, in particular Pranati and Dipa, at key international events that served as qualifying events for the Paris Olympics.

Although there was some success, the larger goal of Olympic qualification was not to be fulfilled.

Pranati Nayak won bronze at the Cairo (Egypt) leg of the World Cup series back in February, only the third Indian to win a medal at the FIG (International Gymnastics Federation) World Cup.

But a 9th place finish in the penultimate leg of the series held at Baku (Azerbaijan) shut down her Paris aspirations.

She failed to qualify for the final round at the Doha leg of the series.

Injuries and doping accusations marred Dipa's preparation

One would have thought with a fourth-place finish at Rio 2016, Dipa would take Indian gymnastics to greater heights, but it did not pan out exactly that way.

She was brought down by several injuries and if that was not enough, she also failed doping tests leading to elongated spells outside the gymnastics arena.

However, she returned to competing at the highest levels in 2023 but was unable to hit peak form due to sustained absence and lack of competitive exposure, and that, unfortunately, resulted in Dipa missing out on the Paris train.

Dipa couldn't get hold of the spot at the World Cup series despite a respectable fourth-place finish in the Baku and Doha legs.

Dipa's final hope for Paris crashed down on her after a disappointing 16th-place finish in the all-around event at the 2024 Asian Gymnastics Championships held in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) last May.

Lack of impetus in Indian gymnastics

For a long time, gymnastics in India has been struggling with a lack of investment in infrastructure such as quality training facilities and competitive exposure to athletes.

Gymnastics is a very demanding sport that takes a big toll on the body. Unfortunately, in India, international standard gymnastic centers are hard to come by.

A compromise on the quality of equipment can lead to injuries, which could, in turn, create a stigma around the sport as being dangerous and ultimately keep people away from it rather than pull them in.

Young gymnasts have to train with bare-bones equipment, and it is only at the highest level that athletes can access proper facilities.

On top of that, the lack of incentives from the government has held back Indian gymnastics for a long time.

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